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Start your school routine now

Back to School: Get the whole family ready by setting a new routine, checking after-school plans - and cutting TV time.

By GreatSchools Staff

Getting back into the school routine can be a challenge for everyone in the family. To make adjusting to the new routine easier, start early and ease into it.

  • A few weeks before school starts, move bedtime back to an earlier time.
  • It's easy during the lazy days of summer to slip into having meals at irregular hours. As the first day of school approaches, make meal times more regular and aligned with the school year schedule.
  • Put a positive spin on going back to school. Talk about the fun things your child will be learning, the old friends he'll see and the new friends he'll make.
  • If your child is anxious about starting the next grade, reassure her that other children have these feelings too.
  • Don't make plans for big trips right before the start of school.
  • Establish school-day schedules for homework, TV, baths and bedtime.
  • Arrange play-dates with friends from school to re-establish connections that may have been dropped for the summer, or to create new ones.

Confirm Your After-School Care Arrangements

Most after-school care arrangements must be made months ahead, frequently in the winter or spring before your child starts school. As the school year approaches, however, it's a good idea to confirm your plans.

  • Make sure your child knows where he is going after school.
  • Double-check on your care plans and communicate with the provider a few days before school starts.
  • If your child will be home alone after school, establish safety rules for locking doors and windows, and for answering the door and the telephone. Make sure she knows to check in with you or another adult when she arrives at home.

Control the TV and the Computer

It's tempting, especially during the summer, to let kids watch a lot of television and spend time on the computer. As you get ready to go back to school, start to put limits on watching television if you haven't done so during the summer.

  • Be firm. Set limits of no more than an hour or two of TV daily.
  • Set a good example by not watching a lot of TV yourself. Engage in family activities such as reading or board games.
  • Keep TVs out of your child's bedroom to limit the temptation.
  • TiVo or videotape programs and watch them later. If you eliminate or fast-forward through commercials you can cut 10 minutes off of every hour of TV viewing.
  • Make use of ratings systems to know whether or not a program or movie is appropriate for your child.
  • Eliminate or monitor closely your child's viewing of programs with graphic language, violence and sexual content, and movies rated PG-13 and R. These types of programs can have a cumulative negative effect on a child if they're watched over and over again.
  • Encourage selective TV viewing. Discourage channel surfing which encourages passive viewing.
  • Choose wisely. There are some TV programs that can be a valuable tool for learning and expanding one's awareness of the world.
  • It's easy to get lax during the summer about letting your child spend more hours playing video games or sitting in front of a computer. Now's the time to get back into the good habits of managing screen time, just in time for the homework to begin!

Comments from readers

"I think you should add info about getting your child's allergy forms in order for the beginning of the school year."
"Why is it a concern to 'not schedule big trips prior to school starting'? "
"I think you have some great ideas on prepering for school. I have followed the same routine for years and it really helps. however, in todays world-how about some tips for the 14 year old with a cell phone????? I get up at 2am & she an others are on a conference call. I started last week with the phone being turned off at 10pm, house phone 9:30-anyother suggestions? or rules like tv time, for the cell phone without making me the terrible single mother."
"I do this every year. Two weeks before school starts, I start to go to sleep around 9:30-9:00. But, I get ready at 8:30. Then one week before school starts I wake up when I have to for school. This really...... helps!"
" Two weeks before school re-begins, we set our now 10 yr old daughter's bedtime back a half an hour. As of the second week before school starts, her bedtime goes back another half hour. This way her mind gets back into school's bedtime, and still gets the treat of over-the-summer later bedtimes."
"We never really changed my son's bedtime in the summer, except maybe on the weekends...this is a sure fire way to keep him acclamated to getting up on time!"
"This is a very good article. I enjoyed reading alot of the information. It was very helpful. My kids are making a big transition. They are going to a new school in a new town. The supply list was very helpful."
"I really think this article is really going to help me with my child. I will tell my freind about this article. This article wiil help me alot,it has helped my kid have a good night sleep before school starts."